The weekly audience for the BBC’s Russian language news website more than tripled following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the broadcaster.

Its year-to-date weekly average hit a record reach of 10.7 million people last week – compared to 3.1 million.

In English, visitors in Russia were up 252% to 423,000 last week.

Audiences for the Ukrainian language site more than doubled year-to-date, with a reach of 3.9 million in the past week compared to 1.7 million.

The audience for also increased 154% in Ukraine.

The BBC said a total of 77.4 million unique visitors consumed its online coverage in English in the first five days of the invasion.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “It’s often said truth is the first casualty of war.

“In a conflict where disinformation and propaganda is rife, there is a clear need for factual and independent news people can trust – and in a significant development millions more Russians are turning to the BBC.

“We will continue giving the Russian people access to the truth, however we can.”

The BBC has also launched two new shortwave frequencies in the region for four hours of World Service English news a day, which can be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia.